WASHINGTON -- Super middleweight world titleholder Badou Jack was not a happy camper after a hard-fought majority draw against former titleholder Lucian Bute on Saturday at the DC Armory, but he at least kept his belt and will move on to much bigger business in the fall.
Two judges scored the fight 114-114, while the third judge scored it wide for Jack 117-111, a score that seemed more in line with reality. ESPN.com had the fight for Jack 116-112.
Jack was displeased with the scoring.
"Bulls---. It is what it is," he said. "Ask Bute as well. He knows what time it is. His punches weren't hurting me. I feel I won the fight. Maybe I lost the last round. He's a great guy and a great champion, but I know I won the fight. It's not Bute's fault -- it's the judges'. People saw I won the fight."
Retired superstar Floyd Mayweather, Jack's promoter, sat ringside and was also disappointed with the scoring.
"We want to be treated fair," Mayweather said. "We need to get some new judges because this is not right for the sport of boxing."
The fight, before a crowd of 4,135, was a semifinal of a Showtime-backed four-man tournament. Jack faced Bute in one bracket, and titleholder James DeGale (23-1, 14 KOs), 30, of England, retained his version of the 168-pound title for the second time in the co-feature by winning a unanimous decision -- 117-111, 116-112 and 115-113 -- against Rogelio "Porky" Medina to earn his way into the fall unification bout, which could take place on DeGale's home turf in London. All four of the fighters had agreed that the two winners would meet in the fall, likely in September, to unify titles, but even with the draw, Jack will get the assignment against DeGale.
"He's still got the title, so yes," Showtime Sports general manager Stephen Espinoza said when asked if the network would move forward with DeGale-Jack.
In November, Bute fought so well in a close loss to DeGale that he earned the shot against Jack (20-1-2, 12 KOs), 32, a Sweden native fighting out of Las Vegas. Bute was again disappointed, despite putting in a commendable effort.
"It was a close fight. Believe me, it was a very close fight," said Bute, who won a super middleweight world title in 2007 and made nine successful defenses before losing by knockout to Carl Froch in 2012. "My last fight with DeGale was very close. Tonight was a very close fight. I showed everyone I'm still at the top."
The fight got off to a slow start, with both fighters feinting and moving but not throwing many punches and landing even fewer. But Bute -- with a section of fans who made the trip from his hometown of Montreal chanting "Bute! Bute!" -- began to come to life in the third round, when he landed sharp straight left hands, though Jack got through with something because Bute suffered a small cut over his right eye.
In the fifth round, they traded heavy shots in the middle of the ring as the action picked up, but Jack got the better of it by landing a heavy, overhand left that shook the 36-year-old Bute (32-3-1, 25 KOs). There were several close rounds in which they took turns throwing punches as they fought at a fast pace, mostly right in the middle of the ring. Bute went to the body often, and Jack displayed a powerful left hook and was more accurate.
According to CompuBox punch statistics, Jack landed 278 of 703 (40 percent), while Bute connected on 179 of 857 (21 percent).
"I won the fight, but everybody saw it, though, so it's all good," Jack said. "I feel I landed more punches than him. But everybody saw it though, so that's what matters. He was very tough. I may have given away a couple of rounds, maybe the last one or two rounds or so, but I won the fight clearly."
Jack seemed a step ahead of Bute through most of the fight. Bute fought well, but boxing is a young man's sport, and although he was competitive in each round, Jack appeared to do enough to win most of them. By the second half of the fight, Jack, the younger, fresher man, appeared to wearing Bute down, and Bute's punches no longer seemed to have the steam they did in the early rounds.
Bute, with swelling on his right cheek, had a solid 11th round but also took several right hands and got knocked off balance. He was having a very good 12th round but had it interrupted when referee Guadalupe Garcia called timeout to have loose tape on Jack's glove re-wrapped. Still, Bute finished strong.
DeGale, who was ringside fresh from his victory in the opener, said he thought Jack deserved the decision.
"It was a close fight, but Jack won it," he said. "Let's do it. Let's unify the division and see who the best is."
Draw or not, Jack said he will be ready for his defining fight against DeGale.
"Of course, I want DeGale," Jack said. "I'm ready in September, ready in August. I'm ready whenever. Right now, I'm just going to relax, go home and see my beautiful daughter, take some time off and be back in the fall with DeGale."